Wednesday, September 05, 2012

1.5 Mark Part 2

continued from yesterday
... It is easy for us to forget that Jesus participated fully in humanity. He suspended his knowledge of all things while he was on earth (e.g., Mark 13:32). Even though we believe he was God, on earth he had to learn who he was, and he had to learn God's will, just as we do.

Jesus taught, and he taught primarily in stories and riddles.  The primary example Mark gives us is Jesus' parable of the soils in Mark 4.  A farmer throws seed on four different kinds of soil: the path, rocky soil, soil where there were weeds, and good soil.  Birds snatch the first. The second has no root and so gets scorched by the sun. The third gets choked by weeds, and only the seed on the fourth soil thrives.

Jesus' point is that not everyone will respond appropriately to his news of the kingdom. Only the one who "has ears to hear" will hear and follow (4:9). Ironically, Jesus' own followers don't understand this riddle, a fact to which we will return in the next chapter.  Jesus' own disciples don't understand the parable whose point is that only those with faith will understand his riddles!

Inevitably, Jesus got into conflict.  He didn't go looking for it.  It inevitably came looking for him. When you are making as big an impact as Jesus was, some people are going to feel threatened. They're going to get jealous.  Some are just going to flat disagree with you. Jesus had his share of that, and eventually it grew so great that they put him to death.

Mark, Part 2
The turning point of Mark, as is often said, comes after Jesus acknowledges to Peter that he is the Christ, the expected anointed one of Israel (Mark 8:27-30).  The tone and direction of Mark changes from that point on.  Up to this point, everything has been, "go, go, go!"  Jesus has healed, he has cast out demons, crowds of immense proportions have followed him.

But now the tone changes.  Three times Jesus will tell his disciples that he is going to Jerusalem to die. There is a sense of foreboding and destiny. Although Jesus does still heal and the crowds still follows, he seems to spend more time privately with his key followers.

Mark 9 records the curious event of the Transfiguration, where Peter and James and John see Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus.  They will emerge as a core group of disciples within the larger group of the Twelve, even after the resurrection.  Unfortunately, James and John seemed to want such privileged roles. They got into conflict with the other disciples over their desire to have the highest roles in the coming kingdom (10:35-40).

Indeed, at another point the whole group of disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest when the kingdom would come (9:34).  They must have thought that they were going to Jerusalem for Jesus to become king, not to die.  We will return to the disciples' lack of understanding in the next chapter, a key theme of Mark...


π² said...

"Even though we believe he was God, on earth he had to learn who he was, and he had to learn God's will, just as we do."

I was just pondering this as I've been reading through Luke. Nazareth seems to be the first place Jesus outright claims to be the Messiah, and the consequences are that people try to kill him. From that point on he tells the demonized to be quiet about who he is, and when people question him, he turns the question around on them, "Who do you think I am?" Did Jesus learn from his experience in Nazareth?

I was also reminded of Matthew 16, where Peter declares Jesus to be "the Christ," to which Jesus says that was not revealed to Peter by man, but by God. Or in other words, "I didn't tell you that Peter, but God revealed it to you."

Ken Schenck said...

I'm sympathetic to Witherington's suggestion that Jesus in his humanity may not have realized he was the Messiah until his baptism, with the voice from heaven.

By the way, there is a leveling taking place through blogging, the internet, and a flattened world. These sorts of discussions used to take place in classrooms, where exploring ideas and examining one's own assumptions is often the name of the game. These sorts of discussions can be shocking in the public sphere, and I personally have had my share of pummeling (others have had it worse).

What I hope is happening, and I hope the public will find this a good thing, is that the "academic" discussions that used to be sequestered are now open for everyone to participate in. I think this will bring a leveling in the long run. Scholarship will not be a thing for a privileged few but out in the open for everyone to know, critique, and maybe every once and a while, agree with...

π² said...

I cannot tell you how much I regret not being able to be a part of John Drury's Theological Research Seminar. Next semester I may request to be Skyped in. So I'll take the hits online in order to have a real discussion.

Regarding the topic of Jesus' knowledge, I think we are influenced by the story of the boy Jesus at the temple (Luke 2). And aren't there other non canonical Jesus as a child stories of him show extraordinary abilities and knowledge?